Turning an old building into a modern laboratory facility for protein research

With its leading-edge laboratory and research facilities, designed and built by NNE, the University of Copenhagen hopes to attract international top researchers.

With the ambition of attracting international top researchers and other staff categories, the University of Copenhagen asked NNE to plan, design and construct new laboratory and research facilities. The reputation of the Faculty of Health Sciences as a leading centre within a large number of research areas – including metabolic diseases, diabetes, cancer and international health – is highly dependent on an inspiring and active research community, in which access to state-of-the-art facilities and technologies is key. The overall goal of establishing the protein research centre was to create a centre, which will in the future provide a framework for protein research of international excellence.

A future-proof facility

The research centre is situated at the Panum Building in Copenhagen and is part of Copenhagen University. The plan was to establish the new sophisticated Center for Protein Research in an existing building from 1971, by refurbishing three floors with a total area of approximately 6,000 m2 and implementing all known new laboratory design trends in the new facility.

NNE concentrated on creating a modern, future-proof and transparent research facility in the old building, directing a high degree of attention at GMO (genetically modified organisms) safety, flexibility and changeability. To get the desired flexibility, all the internal fittings of the building were removed and a new layout was established, with separate wet and dry zones. NNE designed the dry zones with utility and layout, which provides the necessary flexibility for years to come.

To facilitate the start-up of the facility, NNE submitted and obtained authority approvals for the use of GMOs and helped prepare the applications for approval of the actual research projects. We also provided a laboratory manager to handle the initial procurement of equipment and establish service agreements with suppliers until the newly established management could hire a suitable candidate.

NNE's involvement in the new Center for Protein Research provided the University with a leading-edge research facility, and ensured a smooth start-up process with a limited number of employees involved, allowing the researchers to devote their time to fulfilling the University’s ambition of world-class research.

Quick facts


University of Copenhagen




6,000 m2

Project duration

Jun. 2007 - Dec. 2010

Total investment cost 

USD 1.9 million 

Services provided

Full range of architectural and engineering from concept handover: Planning design, construction management, handling of authority approvals, equipment procurement, establishment of supplier agreements